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FAREWELL, THE

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KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
Recommended age 8-18
98 minutes
FeatureFilm
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The Farewell, directed by Lulu Wang, played tug-of-war with my emotions as I felt a constant push and pull between crying and smiling! I became a part of Billi's family, empathizing with the family members because they reminded me of my own.

Based on an actual lie, The Farewell tells the story of Billi (Awkwafina), a Chinese immigrant in America, and the relationship with her grandmother, Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhou), who lives in China. When Billi finds out that her grandmother only has a few months left to live, Billi must grapple with the fact that her family doesn't wish to tell Nai Nai. Along with dealing with Nai Nai's imminent death, Billi struggles with her Chinese and American roots.

The power of The Farewell comes from its simplicity. The most powerful scenes are those without music or dialogue, just Billi alone with her emotions. These scenes last several seconds and act as a window into Billi's heart. Awkwafina fully transforms into her character, letting her eyes convey Billi's indescribable pain to the audience. The cinematography by Anna Franquesa and Solano assists in amplifying the effect of the actors' emotions. The camera often frames Billi in the center of the screen, whether she is amongst a sea of people or alone in her room. Each time the camera does so, I felt how the sorrow forms a small bubble around her that is only visible to the audience, especially if she is pretending to smile or laugh. Once again, there is a simplicity in the cinematography that carries power. This simplicity even extends to the music by Alex Weston. The music is comprised of only a few string instruments and a simple melody. However, every time it plays it reflects the emotions of Billi, giving me goosebumps.

My favorite part is how this movie depicts immigrant families and their struggles. Being Indian, but born and brought up in America, I found several similarities between Nai Nai and my own mother and grandmother. At certain moments, I was laughing out loud because Nai Nai says something that I have heard countless times in my own family. In this way, The Farewell brings a story that millions of American families can relate to, that is not often found in Hollywood movies.

The message is that family is precious. I give The Farewell 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Be sure to check out The Farewell which opened in theatres nationwide July 26, 2019.

Reviewed by Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

This film rocked everyone's emotions. Although there are multiple instances where the film is a bit slow, the overall emotional impact is great. There are moments of comedic relief throughout. I think that everyone can relate to this film in some way. I made connections with some of the ideas and scenes even though I am not Chinese.

The Farewell is about Billi and her family's reunion in China. They reunite because their grandma has developed lung cancer and the doctor says she only has weeks to live. The family chooses not to tell Nai-Nai (grandma) that she has lung cancer. Instead, they tell her that they are reunited for a wedding. Billie's family tells her that the reason for not telling Nai-Nai is that it's not the cancer that kills, but the fear. The film is all about appreciating the time you have on earth and with your family. There are many moments of stillness, included watching the wind blow through the trees, for 30 seconds or more. I find this aspect of the film beautiful, as it reminds me of the phrase, "stop and smell the roses." But others might interpret these moments as filler scenes and pointless.

Awkwafina, as Billie, is an exceptional actress. You can feel the emotion she conveys through the screen, even if she doesn't say anything. For her role she needs to show the audience that she is deeply troubled, but also show that she tries to hide her feelings from her grandma. That is very difficult to do and she does it perfectly. Without this, the film would lose a lot of its emotional impact.

The music sets the mood very well for some scenes, but in others silence and black screens are set the mood. Sometimes it's the noise of nature, like the wind blowing through the leaves. Scenes like these are what makes the film divergent.

The message of this film is about being appreciative of all aspects of life. Billie begins to realize that while she spends time with her family in China. Every moment is a gift. I love that the film is quite simple yet it has such a powerful effect.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, as well as adults. There are innuendos, use of alcohol, cigarettes and some bad language. Despite this, the film will move you to tears so check it out! It comes out July 12, 2019 in theaters!

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I surprisingly loved this film. I was not excited about watching it, but after the screening, I realized that I have a lot of sympathy for this movie and the story resonates with me. It is about family grief and love, identity, having confidence and cultural identity.

This is the story of a girl named Billie (beautifully played by Awkwafina) who lives in NYC. She loves her grandmother Nai Nai who lives in China and she calls her every day. They lie to each other about how their lives are going. Billie does not know that Nai Nai has stage four lung cancer. And, when she finds out Billie is devastated. It is a Chinese tradition to not tell a person when they have terminal cancer, because they want to keep their spirit alive. There is a Chinese saying: "Is not of the cancer but of the fear." Nai Nai's family plans a fake wedding so everyone gets a chance to get together and say goodbye, without telling the truth. Billie struggles with the lies and debates between her life in the west, being from the east.

I found this film very interesting because it is based on a actual lie and is director's Lulu Wang's real life story. The storytelling is delicate and touching; the performances are absolutely honest.

I love the cultural richness of the movie and the colors. If you like art films or slow paced ones, I definitely recommend this movie. In the film, there is a little bird that constantly comes into a room that Billie is in and doesn't fly. I think the director wanted to use the bird as a reference to Billie, as if she is trapped in her own mind and inertia. I like the comedy, but I think the grownups watching this film enjoyed the jokes a lot more than I did. The Farewell is a drama that is intended to lift your heart and not make you laugh. Throughout the film and for almost half of it, Billie's family speaks Mandarin, but it didn't bother me and I understood the film perfectly by reading the subtitles.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 16, as well as adults. The message of this film is that expressing our true feelings impacts our family bond. It opens in theaters July 26 12, 2019 so look for it.

Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

see youth review
A headstrong Chinese-American woman returns to China when her beloved grandmother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Billi struggles with her family's decision to keep grandma in the dark about her own illness as they all stage an impromptu wedding to see grandma one last time.
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